Our experts make their predictions for the NFL's conference championship games.
The Patriots have relied on their running game in recent weeks and it has been enough to get to this point. The difference for the Patriots this week might be in the Broncos’ run defense, which could lead to a passing-frenzy that will give the Broncos a slight edge.
Mike Preston: Broncos 34, Patriots 24
It will be a shootout because neither team plays defense. If Manning is on, really really on, there is no team that can stop him. Denver hasn't forgotten an early season loss to New England.
Peter Schmuck: Broncos 27, Patriots 24
This one is too close to call, since we're talking about two teams with Hall of Fame quarterbacks who are capable of lighting up the scoreboard. So, there's only one thing to do, and that is to cop out and pick the home team.
Matt Vensel: Patriots 35, Broncos 31
Aaron Wilson: Broncos 35, Patriots 27
This time, overtime won't be necessary as the Broncos bottle up running back LeGarrette Blount and prevent Tom Brady from engineering quick strikes. Peyton Manning has a wealth of targets to throw to and will distribute the football adeptly enough to keep the Patriots off-balance.
Jeff Zrebiec: Broncos 31, Patriots 28
Peyton Manning will get the best of Tom Brady in a battle of two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves shutting down the opposition's top playmakers but the Broncos just have too many of them for New England to stop.
Stan “The Fan” Charles: Patriots 29, Broncos 23
Two great QBs, both could be facing their last best chance to play in a Super Bowl. New England has the defensive capabilities of thwarting Manning. I haven’t seen that same capability by anyone to stop Brady. The guy with the beautiful model wife beats the Papa John’s franchisee.
The Seahawks may have the biggest advantage in the NFL when it comes to playing at home, but this season they also have benefitted from a suffocating defense. With a Super Bowl berth on the line, the Seahawks squeeze out the win.
Mike Preston: Seahawks 21, 49ers 17
The two teams are very similar except Seattle has a faster and strong defense, and the Seahawks are at home where they seem to play better.
Peter Schmuck: 49ers 23, Seahawks 19
The Niners seem to be gathering steam and they'll overcome an unhappy recent history in Seattle. This is shaping up as a defensive battle, but Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore will deliver a balanced offensive attack that will be just good enough to get back to the Super Bowl.
Matt Vensel: 49ers 23, Seahawks 19
I love Seattle's defense and their poised young quarterback. The 49ers are the NFL's hottest team, though, and will muscle their way to the Super Bowl.
Aaron Wilson: 49ers 27, Seahawks 17
49ers win their third consecutive road playoff game as Colin Kaepernick's composure imitates his commercials, outdueling Russell Wilson as a stout defense led by its athletic group of linebackers prevents Marshawn Lynch from going into “Beast Mode.”
Jeff Zrebiec: 49ers 27, Seahawks 24
The Seahawks' home-field advantage is extremely tough to go against, but the 49ers look like the most complete team remaining in the playoffs and their championship game experience bodes well. Colin Kaepernick will outplay Russell Wilson and the 49ers' defense will prove too tough.
Stan “The Fan” Charles: 49ers 22, Seahawks 17
No question that Seattle was the better team during the regular season. But, this is the playoffs, and while I expect Seattle to come out and punch the 49ers in the mouth, at the end of the day Jim Harbaugh’s guys are playing like they want to say mission completed at Met-Life Stadium on Feb. 2.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun